Today is the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve been brainstorming ways to make the most of this summer, and I was happy when the Happier app challenged me to write a “five-senses portrait” of summer.

Reflecting on summers past and present, I recalled the silvery light of Montana, the chlorine scent of pools, and cool bed sheets on hot nights. Some more highlights from my five-senses portrait of summer:

  • Seeing: Jamie dressed in tennis whites and a knee brace; so many shades of green in Central Park
  • Hearing: Shrill pulsing screech of cicadas in Kansas City (a sound we will all be very familiar with this particular summer!); kids yelling “Marco? Polo!” while playing in a swimming pool
  • Smelling: Particularly pungent smell of a New York City summertime trash pickup day; hot dirt after a rain
  • Tasting: Homemade peach ice cream my grandmother made one unforgettable summer; the first time Eleanor tried cotton candy, at the Central Park Zoo
  • Touching: The sticky, heavy, smooth feel of sunscreen; the weight of a heavy tote bag full of books for vacation reading

What would appear in your five-senses portrait of summer?

If you’re interested in prompts like these or if you’re looking for inspiration for your summer plans, you can still Spin the Wheel in the Happier™ app to get fun ideas through the end of June.

5 Things Making Me Happy​

This Instagram user shared a special experience they had at the Met: a touch tour for visitors who are blind and low vision. Just the other day, I walked by some visitors who were exploring through touch some works in the Egyptian wing.

I loved reading this story of how members of the historical society of the English village of Collyweston (population 564) discovered a long-vanished Tudor palace. They used local lore and place references, as well as high-tech tools, to identify where the building had stood.

This week, for the Happier Podcast Book Club, we talk to renowned writer Anne Lamott about her beautiful new collection of essays, Somehow: Thoughts on Love, as well as her other works, such as Bird by Bird and Operating Instructions, writing, families, and life in general. (Fun fact: years ago, Annie and I were bridesmaids together, because my college roommate was Annie’s hometown friend.) Lately, now that I’m thinking about the “open door/empty nest” stage of life, I keep finding myself thinking of a line from one of Annie’s essays: You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey.”

Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper is a wildly popular weekly newsletter—great information, original reporting, helpful insights, with Maria Shriver’s “I’ve Been Thinking” column. The newsletter’s tag line is the ”home for a deeply meaningful life”—click here if that sounds intriguing to you.

I love any chance to look out the windows of a skyscraper’s high floors—to see the New York City landscape from above. On this sunny day, I was delighted to discover so many beautiful rooftop gardens lining the streets. It’s lucky for me I don’t have a window like this in my office; I love to watch street life and would just gaze out the windows and never get any work done. (In fact, now that I think about it, one peculiar feature of our apartment is that we can’t see the street from any window, and that fact that has probably contributed greatly to my productivity over the years.)


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Stock up on popular drinkware, apparel, and more from The Happiness Project shop with one of our biggest discounts of the year—up to 45% off. No code required. Sale ends 11:59pm PT on Tuesday, June 25th.

This week on Happier with Gretchen Rubin


For the Happier Podcast Book Club, we talk to renowned writer Anne Lamott about her beautiful new collection of essays, “Somehow: Thoughts on Love,” as well as her other works, such as “Bird by Bird” and “Operating Instructions,” and life in general.

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Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.